Friday, 02 February 2018 13:39
The Attention Equilibrium: Brands must team up to survive in a world of infinite supply
Blog by Charles (Chuck) Ehredt, CEO and co-founder of Currency Alliance
If you’re unlucky enough to have been the prettiest person in a packed bar, you’ll know how it feels to be a consumer in the age of big tech.
A deluge of attention, everyone asking you to dance.
This is bad for you, and bad for your admirers.
You have a terrible evening; and your admirers waste a fortune on the cocktails which you keep batting away.
In this scenario, it’s not the unwanted attention, in and of itself, that’s the problem.
It’s the fact you are a finite commodity.
This example calls for a new understanding of the attention economy.
Most commentators propose novel advertising techniques to claw at ever-skinnier slices of human attention; but in reality, this is making things worse.
Admirers are proliferating.
The supply of attention remains fixed; but globally, industrial oversupply of commodities, goods and labor is creating ever more products, ever more brands, and ever more demand for your attention.
It makes less sense to discuss an “attention economy”, therefore, than an Attention Equilibrium, whereby the success of consumer brands depends on their ability to negotiate this balance of supply and demand.
This balance is currently swinging firmly in favour of big tech brands – and causing traditional consumer brands to face a very real existential threat.
Upsetting the balance
People have often talked about consumer attention being a commodity.
People have also talked about the problem of industrial oversupply.
The two are inextricable.
Jean-Baptiste Say, who proposed the theory that supply creates its own demand, understood that supply and demand exist in a state of equilibrium – and that “for every good that is too abundant, there must be another that is too scarce.”
You can display the attention vs. supply equilibrium like so.